Jewish Atheist

An agnostic atheist perspective
from a once orthodox Jew.

Divine Language… Or Mundane Rumors?

http://absolutetruth613.blogspot.com/2012/06/seeing-sounds.html ”Absolute truth claims that Israeli scientists have discovered that the sound waves produced by the pronunciation of “Hebrew” letters correspond to the shape of17 out of 22 those letters. I was wondering if you could debunk this claim of divinely inspired letters?

Ahh, this one! I’ve only seen this once before, in a book presented to me by some zealous chabad kids in Prague. Even then, while I was still theistic and somewhat religious, I found this to be a bit too implausible and asked for sources. The kid showed me a book - a kind of “100 miracles that prove judaism true!” kind of book - which of course had no sources. I googled the name of the “scientist” and research later and found no results.

And, having just done all that again, I again found no matches. Nothing on the entire web that matches that name and research aside from a few kiruv books and websites like the one linked which all give the same scanty description. That’s already a huge red flag. And especially since a piece of research like this, were it to be true and real, would be a pretty big deal. But no, somehow it’s completely absent and all references to it lack any original sources entirely. (Well, one offered a phone number to buy the research, lol)

It’s also why I was a bit let down - though not surprised - when the author of the linked article originally implied that he read an actual science article but that “The article is too extensive and technical for reproduction here”.. and when later pressed for the source he had to admit that, “I took the information from a fascinating book by Rabbi Zamir Cohen called ‘The Coming Revolution.’ I don’t have the book available now to research the original article, but do recommend you get the book.”

So, right off the bat, we have some pretty fantastical claims with absolutely no sources or evidence whatsoever. Frankly, I don’t think anything need be said to debunk a “scientific" claim that appears entirely invented and wholly lacking in scientific evidence aside from some hearsay. So, yeah, that’s the main point.

But even if we ignored the lack of evidence and assumed this research was real and legit, there are a few things to consider:

1) How were these letters pronounced? There are a variety of traditions in how to vocalize them. And some letters have multiple pronunciations! (e.g. kof and chof, bet and vet, etc)

2) The current hebrew script, it is well known, is not the original hebrew script, as even the Talmud discusses (along with actual modern researchers - though the linked article simply dismisses it bc “kabbalah”). The original hebrew script - which, unsurprisingly, evolved from similar scripts used by surrounding and more ancient cultures - looks quite different and would therefore not work with the alleged research at all. (wiki)

3) He claims that 17 out of 22 letters produced these results - what about the other 5? In other words, around 22% of the letters don’t work.  (And that’s assuming the other 17 actually fit well and aren’t shoe-horned in to make it fit, like some of them already appear.) So why would that be? How does that fit with a divine language with these purported properties? Shouldn’t all of them display this amazing property?!

4) There is no picture to sound. All picture created by sound is a representation, the same way infra-red cameras portray heat as a color. Or how our eyes invent colors, for that matter! A sound may “look” like a bump on a record, like a stock trend in typical audio processing equipment, as 1 & 0s on a floppy disk, as trippy visualizations in the right media player, or even taste certain ways for those with that kind of synesthesia. None of them are the way sounds look or taste, they’re just representations. So even if this research were true, while it’d be interesting, all it’d really mean is the guy found one way to process sounds according to certain algorithms that roughly translate into some of their modern written forms. But tweak the program a bit, and it would be a different story.

Which is also quite relevant to the framing of the linked article: “The Israelites saw the sounds at Mt. Sinai!” Really? Did they have computers with that particular software on it? Cause that’s the only way this research - were it real - could make sense as an explanation here. Otherwise it’s rather irrelevant.

4) But even if all the objections were gone, and we thought this was real, etc etc - what would that prove? At best it would be an interesting phenomenon. Noteworthy for a discussion about god and hebrew, but also noteworthy for discussions of synesthesia (e.g. The Bouba/Kiki effect), communication, and the origin of language. That is to say, it could just as well have a fascinating but natural explanation. And of course, it could just be a coincidence, esp if only 78% is alleged to work this way (and again, assuming they’re not shoe-horned in like the bet I reproduced above.)

Remember, humans have an amazing tendency to see shapes and patters where there are none, and to infer design where there is none. That’s why we do research, bc an interesting observation doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a coincidence… and that’s assuming the observation was real.

So next time someone says that the hebrew letter “bet” looks like a house (“bayit”) with an open door… suggest that the word “boob” also shares this amazing property.

dangerousnun:

My favorite thing I learned in class today was that at one point in life a bunch of Jews were left on an island (Elephantine) to live and they were all hanging out there for a while when the egyptians (the island was by egypt) burned down their synagogue. So the Jews, as can be expected, wrote a letter for israel asking for money to rebuild their synagogue.

And then they so casually mention that they’re rebuilding their temple for their five jewish gods.

The group of jewish jews living jewishly write to the jewish capital asking for money to build a synagogue to worship five jewish gods.

Fascinating.

(One link to validate this: x)

Hoshana Rabba and Sleepy Hollow

eretzyisrael:

From Encyclopedia Judaica:

From the 13th century onward, there is evidence regarding special popular beliefs connected with Hoshana Rabba. There was a very widespread belief that he who did not see the shadow of his head on the night of Hoshana Rabba [Jameel: From the light of the moon] would die during that year, for Hoshana Rabba was the day of the “seal,” wherein the verdict of man (passed on the *Day of Atonement) is “sealed,” or the day on which the “notices” of the verdict were sent out (Sefer Ḥasidim, ed. by R. Margoliot (1957), nos. 452–3; Naḥmanides on Num. 14:9; Zohar, Ex., 142a–b).

image

Hoshanah Rabbah 
Germany, 1663.



I guess Hoshana Rabba in Sleepy Hollow in 1790 was less than fortuitous. 

The story is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutchsettlement of Tarry Town (historical Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its ghosts and the haunting atmosphere that pervades the imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors. The most infamous spectre in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman, said to be theghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during "some nameless battle" of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head”.  HT: Steg

A Pitka Tava to all our readers…
—Jameel @ The Muqata

accurate comparison is accurate.

In the Beginning…

eretzyisrael:

by Reb Gutman Locks

image

     Until one hundred years ago, scientists firmly believed that the world had not been created. They insisted that it has always been here. They laughed at us, asking for some thread of proof that the Torah is correct when it claims that the world was created.

     One hundred years ago the scientists changed their minds. Now they agree that the universe was created. They say that the creation came about as the result of an amazing explosion. Their theory maintains that the universe expanded from apebble sized origin, and expanded with incomprehensible speed to its astronomical scope.

     The Torah tells us that all creation was created (and is still being created) “something from nothing.” There was no preexisting mater that creation was created from. The word “earth” (land) in Hebrew comes from the root “to run” or “to rush.” An ancient midrash tells us that G-d began by creating one small rock, and it rushed to expand in order to fulfill His desire.[i]

     Most people believe that the Torah was written by man, and has been handed down from generation to generation, with its roots entirely in this physical world. If so, then who could have been there to see how the world was created? How did our ancestors who first received this book know that the Universe was created, and that it was formed out of a single small rock that expanded to become the Universe? No one could have been there to see what happened!

      Indeed the Torah has been handed down from father to son, from generation to generation, but its root is not from man. Here is, perhaps, the greatest proof that the Torah is true. There is no earthly way that our ancestors could have known these facts, unless they were told from Above.


 Bereishis Rabbah 5:7

Wow, so much wrong here. but I’m not surprised, gutman locks’ is a fountain of such pseudo-intelligent arguments.

So, to start: note how he equivocates by using the word “world” initially when he really means “the universe,” and using the same term later to mean planet earth.

Note how he also uses the term “pebble-sized” when discussing the beginning of the big bang.

I believe this was intentional bc he goes on to suggest that the modern science on the big bang (and btw, so much to correct with locks’ there, but that aside)… matches with this ancient medrash. They don’t.

The medrash suggests that the world - i.e. the planet earth - grew from a pebble. It didn’t. Earth coalesced together a bunch of debris in space bc gravity draws the pieces together. no “running” or “rushing” in growth of a rock; almost the opposite: the pulling together of mass.

Nor does the medrash imply anything about the universe, which makes sense considering people then hardly had the faintest clue as to the nature of space and the universe. Furthermore, the universe didn’t grow from an actual pebble or rock either, but a from concentrated source of energy… matter didn’t form till much later.

so locks’ “great proof” is factually wrong… and it was based on a medrash! basically folklore, of which there are usually a variety of opinions… super weak start to begin with.

So these are his best proofs? This is how he goes about demonstrating a proof? word tricks? weak sources? factually incorrect information? pfft. that says something… not something good.

oh, and how about the fact that this simply overlooks the obviously wrong things that are plain to see in the text, like vegetation before the sun, women created from ribs, etc etc. I’m less impressed with a vague folklore than just plain ol mistakes in the first few sentences.

Every time I hear about god being “our king”, I think this of this! lol

Every time I hear about god being “our king”, I think this of this! lol

infamousblueraincoat asked: i saw a guy who looked like a middle-aged version of you wandering around the mini-mart high as a kite and buying snacks and i thought maybe i had torn the fabric of time and space and was witnessing future jewishatheist shenanigans.

basi… ixney on the uturefey ersionvey of eemey! The pacesey imetey ontinuumcey ependsdey on the ompletecey ecrecysay of my imetey raveltey perimentsxay!

Some people have no problem believing that “climate change” and “evolution” are a conspiracy by thousands of scientists across continents, fabricating (verifiable) evidence, with little to gain from it…
while finding it incomprehensible that literally ancient religious tales by and about mostly anonymous people, about things which are fantastical, usually unverifiable - and when verifiable - typically disproven, might have been invented.

This just occurred to me.

Every now and then I have these small realizations and.. well.. we live in a weird world.

(Source: jewishatheist)

Performing live kapparos with a chicken in a hospital nursery!!!

sad but true actual video

h/t: failed messiah

~~~

so, yeah, this is the kind of thing I’d expect to see in a primitive culture before the discovery of germs.

and granted, many (most?) orthodox jews wouldn’t do this bc they’re aware of the risks, still, evidently at least some people do. and it’s part of a pattern of many other bizarre parts of the ultra-ortho world, like ‘mouthy’ circumcision, and the rise of the anti-vaccination supporters… mostly it’s just a good wake-up call to how ridiculous a culture gets when it actually just pays attention to its religious heritage at the expense of modern discoveries… though considering that many of these things were no doubt done for a looooong time… might also say something about the alleged divine nature of a religion…

shall we try to caption this?
yhvh must have a really weird plan for the world, lol
"Grabbing a bite? Why not eat it in this tiny, mobile gondola?! It’s for a good cause… I’m not sure what that it is, but that’s what I’ve heard." lol
"see! I told you that judaism stays up with the times!"
…
good marketing campaign though with “succah selfie” - cause yeah, I’d eat in a giant underwater belljar, or flying couch, or wtvr for shits and giggles… and hell yeah I’d take a selfie… so why not a mini, mobile gondola?
#perpetutating_religious_jewish_heritage_by_pointing_out_how_ridiculous_it_is

shall we try to caption this?

yhvh must have a really weird plan for the world, lol

"Grabbing a bite? Why not eat it in this tiny, mobile gondola?! It’s for a good cause… I’m not sure what that it is, but that’s what I’ve heard." lol

"see! I told you that judaism stays up with the times!"

good marketing campaign though with “succah selfie” - cause yeah, I’d eat in a giant underwater belljar, or flying couch, or wtvr for shits and giggles… and hell yeah I’d take a selfie… so why not a mini, mobile gondola?

#perpetutating_religious_jewish_heritage_by_pointing_out_how_ridiculous_it_is

(Source: eretzyisrael)

candidyetvague:

If somebody gave a handjob and held the person’s balls too could that count as the lulav and the etrog if they’re in a pinch?
#sukkahsomedick

lol

as a man… I’m going to say yes, lol